What is Christian Parenting?

Do you hear the term Christian parenting and think of rods and spoiled children, or parents using the Bible as a dogmatic force – shouting out the Commandment of Honor they Father and Mother? You are probably not alone if you do, but the ideas behind Christian parenting are really based on a foundation of unconditional love. It is unconditional love, after all, that is written about in the Bible and is the cornerstone of the teachings throughout scripture.

Christian parenting refers to a style of parenting that derives its goals and methods from Biblical and church teachings and has several common threads running through the approach. In a way, the Bible is a reflection of families. God teaches through the Bible right from wrong, charitable living, graceful giving, and strength of faith. For those who practice Christian parenting, these are the same attributes that they endeavor to teach their children. The Bible is the most complete manual and playbook, far above any parenting book sold at the mall.

3 important aspects of Christian parenting in my own life are:

  • Leading by Example
  • Disciplining with Love
  • Focusing on Marriage

Leading by Example

Parents who pursue a Christian approach to parenting often seek to lead by example. This doesn’t make them unique in their parenting, as many parenting styles reflect this approach as well. Perhaps the difference is that the examples that parents choose to set are often reflective of their faith and their beliefs in biblical teachings.

Leading by example holds the parents responsible, and their actions must speak for them. If you want your child to treat others with respect, you need to be respectful. If you want your child to learn to be prayerful, have strong morals, and be faithful, you need to find ways to exhibit these same behaviors in your own life.

Many times parents who adhere to Christian foundations in their parenting styles find that there is a strong correlation between the responsibility for decisions that we must possess and model for our kids and the responsibility for our decisions that God gives us. We have been given the gift of choice, and our everyday actions need to reflect the choices we hope our children will make.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Disciplining with Love

There seems to be a misconception that the only way Christian parenting styles are effective is if the parents use corporal punishment for every infraction. However, Christian parenting demonstrates that we need to discipline our children in order to guide them – we have this one, amazing gift that we have been given, parenthood – we owe it to our children to lead them well. Children, like the rest of us, are imperfect. Discipline in a loving way acknowledges the imperfections and corrects behaviors without harming the child.

Not only are parents taught in the Bible to discipline their children with love, but they are taught the importance of self-discipline. For many who follow Christian parenting styles, the essence of why as parents we discipline our children is to lead them to a life of self-discipline. Biblical teachings for parenting guidance can be found in Hebrews 12, verses 5-11, where the discipline God gives is discussed. God wants people to become their ultimate versions of their unique selves, and He disciplines us in the same loving way that we discipline our children. If a parent is struggling with the actions of her child, doesn’t she often just want what is best for her child? This is the parallelism between God’s love for us and our love for our children, and why discipline is necessary and a loving action.

Focusing on Marriage

One of the most powerful things we can give our children is a strong family. Christian parenting teaches that honoring the relationship between Mom and Dad is paramount in raising happy, healthy children. It can be very easy to get caught up in the craziness of kids’ schedules and work demands and put marriage and that partnership commitment on the backburner. Christian parenting not only gives permission, but encourages the emphasis of that marital bond. I admit that this is sometimes very difficult for me – it sometimes feels like I am ignoring my children or putting them second if I take a special day with my husband. However, I know that the energy I put into the relationship with my husband will be returned infinitely within my family.

Christian Parenting in My Life

I never set out and formally said “I want to follow the attributes of Christian parenting” when our first child was born. Instead, I knew in my heart that I wanted to give my children the gift of faith and the knowledge of Jesus. Children learn so much easier by active participation so I strove for ways to show them about what I felt it meant to be a Christian. I began to look at different parts of our lives and imagine how God would parent in a particular situation, or how Mary would act as Mother.

There is the fad for kids to wear WWJD bracelets (What would Jesus do?), but when I see my children seriously look to their faith for guidance I know they have chosen the most amazing role model, especially in the face of so many pop culture icons grabbing for their attention. As my children and I continue to grow, in life and in faith, I can look back and see how Christian parenting provided a foundation for our family. It is the ever-present guiding hand and supportive strength in our lives.

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Do Your Kids Need Rules for Phones and Computers?

Do Your Kids Need Rules for Phones and Computers?

Kids Need Rules for Technology Use

We have taken the plunge and now 2 of our 4 kids have their own cell phones, complete with texting, and they have joined the ranks of more than 16 million children in the US with cell phones. Add to that 2 computers in the home and digital cameras and camcorders to go around, and our children are connected – seemingly to everywhere and everyone. With the world at their reach setting ground rules for technology is even more important than ever. While our parents had to worry about explaining the boundaries that were safe to travel in our neighborhood, we have to come up with ways for our kids to navigate technology safely, where their neighborhood is infinite, and not always even real.

Rules for Cell Phone Use

Selfishly I really appreciate the cell phones my kids have. My daughter attends classes at a college campus and isn’t old enough to drive. Her cell phone keeps us connected, gives her an extra measure of security, and helps me plan my driving schedule. My son travels constantly for sporting events and I have better things to do than sit and wait for a bus to bring him back that I didn’t know was 45 minutes late because he couldn’t call me. That being said – cell phones are sometimes the thorn in my side when it comes to the constant connection the kids seem to have with them. The rules are not only for safety reasons, but for the sake of sanity. Here are a few we try to live by:

  • Never send pictures you wouldn’t be proud to show Great-Grandma. One day she might see them – they stay in cyber world forever.
  • No texting at the dinner table, or the lunch counter, or during any other meal. Not only is it rude, but the fingers to mouths to phone and back again is a highway for germs.
  • Never use your phone to tease. The person on the other end can’t tell voice inflection or the twinkle in your eye, so you cannot be certain as to how your message will be received.
  • Put the phone away when there is company (even Mom and Dad’s friends). Kids see texting amid other social interactions as a quiet, un-interrupting conversation, but for adults it is an annoying and rude habit.
  • If you need to answer a text or call, excuse yourself and inform your friend that you won’t be texting back until (fill in the blank) is over.
  • Turn the phone off in theatres, church, school, meetings, and other formal occasions.
  • Don’t text to one person and try to talk to another – it is a distraction for both and a disingenuous practice. I need eye contact, people!
  • Don’t text when you and the rest of the world should be sleeping. When we were kids we were taught the 9 to 9 rule – no calling friends between 9pm and 9am out of respect for others in the household. Texting might be quieter, but those vibrating phones are still annoying (says the mom who can hear her daughter’s phone vibrate through the ceiling above my office).
  • No phone use while driving. That goes for the kids and for me. I can’t expect them to follow that rule if I don’t adhere to it myself.
  • Keep phone conversations private. Just because you can talk in the middle of the store to your best friend about the party last night doesn’t mean the rest of the shoppers care to hear about the details.

Rules for Computer Use

  • My kids are all technology savvy – and I have to make concerted efforts to keep up with them. We have two computers, one in the office and the other a laptop, and at any given time during the day they seem to be in use. Rules for computer use not only help keep our kids safer, but they can help keep them healthier as well.
  • The laptop only travels from the living room or dining room to campus or elsewhere with Mom’s permission. No computers in bedrooms – it is too easy with wireless internet to get sucked into an online world.
  • Passwords are given to parents. This doesn’t mean that my husband or I use them to spy on the kids, but it does mean that in the case of an emergency we would have access to information or if we suspect our child of misbehaving or of being in danger online we could act immediately.
  • Time online is finite. There are too many things to do in this world to spend countless hours hanging out online. We have limits on time spent on the computer, all of them age and academic need dependent.
  • No excuses are acceptable for cyber-bullying. There is a zero tolerance policy in our home, which thankfully no one has tested. It is clear that if anyone uses technology to bully, technology will no longer be an option for that child.
  • Mom and Dad get to be your “friends” on sites like Facebook, and if the site is supposed to be for kids 14 and older, we don’t lie and create accounts before that age. There is a reason for those guidelines. Many parents are surprised to learn that Twitter is actually intended for those only 18 and older, but because the site doesn’t require an age when creating an account, it becomes a non-issue.

We go over these rules and remind the kids of them regularly, which is often met with a bored-sounding, “I kkknnnooowww.” They can’t tell me I never made it clear, and they can’t tell me they weren’t aware of the rules. If they break the rules and use technology for inappropriate activities, they know The Mom always finds out and knows all. They also know that all of this technology really is a privilege and they need to treat it as such. Setting ground rules for technology isn’t mean, unnecessary, or for strict parents. Our kids live in a world where adult issues, words, and situations are right at their fingertips, yet they are still kids. Ground rules let kids use the benefits of technology and let them still be kids.

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Helping Children Cope with Death and Grief

Our family has just returned from a second funeral in one week, with another one tomorrow. These deaths around us were not related, but they did reiterate a common point to us and our children – life is precious and death is inevitable. As adults we can gather a different meaning from this through our years of life experiences. For children, however, grieving can be a difficult and winding journey for which they don’t always have the maturity or perspectives to be able to sort through these emotions.

My children just watched as two of their friends said a final goodbye to their father. My own children are experiencing their own loss of a friend, empathy for their friends who just lost a parent, as well as their own fears of something happening to their own parents. As my husband and I also mourn the loss of our friend, we are conscious of the turmoil of emotions our children are going through at this time. While we might want to shield them from the pain of loss, teaching them healthy ways of dealing with death will better allow them to understand their emotions and move forward.

The ages of children experiencing grief will greatly impact how they show and deal with their emotions. Children who are younger than 3 or 4 years of age can recognize the absence of the person in their lives, but aren’t really old enough to comprehend the permanency of the situation. From ages 4 through about 8 or 9 death is understood to be final, but children don’t necessarily have the knowledge to understand the dynamics or emotions of it. By 8 or 9 years of age most children are able to acknowledge the inevitable and painful truths about death and loss, but it doesn’t mean that they are equipped to independently deal with the emotions of their grief.

When a child is faced with a loss, the ranges of emotions and expressions of grief will be varied. It depends on the relationship with the deceased, the maturity of the child, and the reactions of those around them. Some of the ways your child might express grief are:

Regressive Behaviors

Children who experience loss sometimes regress to more immature behaviors such as needing more physical connections like hand holding, being rocked or held, or just being physically close to an important adult. Sometimes the immature behaviors are also verbal, where children find it more difficult to express themselves or communicate with others around them.

Emotionally Charged Behaviors

When children experience loss they sometimes act out their emotions of anger, fear, and frustration by yelling, throwing tantrums, or by disobeying. These can all be unconscious attempts to sort through the emotions with which they are dealing.

Emotionally Numb Behaviors

Sometimes the loss is almost too much to bear for children and they build an emotional wall to protect themselves from the pain. This shock is sometimes perceived as a lack of feelings about the loss, but it is actually the reaction to the overwhelming emotions that are a part of grief. Children sometimes detach from the situation on the exterior, but on the interior are struggling to cope.

Just as for adults, children will go through these various stages of grief, and there is no rhyme or reason to the order or extent with which they experience the emotions of their grief. It is not unlikely for children to need more time than adults to deal with loss as they process through their feelings.

Be honest. Children are extremely intelligent and intuitive people. Use age appropriate terms and details, but don’t tell them that someone “went to sleep” or other untruths that can actually be more frightening than the truth of death.

Rely on your faith. Take the faith you have and share it with your child. Pray together, talk about Heaven, and look to your personal faith beliefs to comfort you and your child.

Watch your own reactions. Children look to the reactions of those around them for comfort and cues about how to act. If you react to the grief by shoving aside the feelings and not dealing with them you will teach your child to do the same. Allow yourself to cry in front of your child and comfort your child when he shows emotions.

Be open. Don’t assume that if your child has questions about the death that he will come to you. Make it a point to ask how he is doing, if he has any questions, or if there is anything he wants to talk about the loss. This shared empathy can be cathartic for both of you.

Share memories. While it can be painful to talk about a loved one who has died, it is important for kids to also honor and remember the life that was lived and their relationships. Research has shown that providing a link or connection to the one who has died helps the survivors find comfort.

  • Create a scrapbook with pictures of the loved one.
  • Give your child a box for trinkets and special mementoes that are special to your child.
  • Write down things you loved about the one who died and share it with your child. At my grandmother’s funeral all 36 of her grandchildren did this and we compiled them into a poem we could all share. It was a great way for all of us to share in the loss and share our memories.
  • Give your child a journal to record her feelings. This can be a safe way to express emotions and can be kept private.
  • Do an activity with your child that your loved one would have enjoyed or appreciated. If your loved one really liked going to baseball games, take your child to one in his honor.

Watch for warning signs. Sometimes when children lose someone who was significant in their lives, such as a parent or sibling, the grief can be too overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you think your child is struggling to deal with the grief.

It can be heart-wrenching to watch your child grieve the loss of a loved one, especially when you are dealing with your own emotions about it. However, death is an inevitable part of life, and teaching our children to have empathy and deal with their emotions in healthy ways is extremely important. We can’t shield them from the pain, but we can help them to move through it.

Some books that can be helpful resources include:

Helping children cope with grief

Children and grief: When a parent dies

Helping Children Cope with Death ~ The Dougy Center for Grieving Children



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Chore Charts Can Promote Teamwork

Create Family Teamwork Through Family Responsibilities

Teaching children responsibility isn’t always easy. But if you read my post yesterday you can see that not only are household chores and responsibilities good for kids, but the earlier we give them to our kids, the better. Even our preschoolers can handle basic responsibilities, and in fact, prosper because of them. Kids who are responsible for contributing to the overall well-being of the household tend to feel more connected to the family, have higher self-esteem, and acquire valuable life skills. The family that works together, stays together, and chore charts are just one way to teach family responsibilities and teamwork.

The Value of Chore Charts

Chore charts are versions of behavior charts, where children are able to tangibly record their accomplishments toward their goals. In our busy household we have used chore charts for many reasons and with good success. Chore charts reduce nagging and they save me from repeating the tasks to my children over and over. They know each day for what they are responsible so there are no surprises. Instead of asking one by one if each task has been accomplished, I can simply ask if the chart is completed for the day, or just look at it myself.

The kids are also motivated by the accomplishments of their siblings. When they see that their younger brother is finished with his responsibilities they want to have those same accomplishments. The core charts are behavior charts because they track and record the efforts put forth by our kids, in essence their participatory behaviors within the family.  The chore charts are hung in a universal location, typically on the outside of the kids’ bathroom door (painter’s tape is great for hanging things on doors and walls without ruining the finishes).

It can be tempting to just do the tasks ourselves, especially when we are in a hurry or have particular ways we want things to be accomplished. However, allowing our kids to complete the tasks on their own with minimal guidance from us will encourage them to take ownership of the tasks and learn for themselves how to most efficiently accomplish the goals. You will only undermine them if you criticize their attempts or go and redo their tasks. If you really struggle with certain tasks being completed certain ways, save those tasks for yourself and give your children responsibilities that you can live with them completing in their own ways.

Easy Chore Charts and Behavior Charts to Make and Print

Chore charts and behavior charts for non-readers and readers are easy to make and they help even the youngest members of the family feel like they are contributing. When my kids were 3 and 4 and not quite reading I would use clip-art in conjunction with the written instructions and make charts like these. The symbols were easy to decipher and helped my non-readers to feel like they were just as capable as older siblings.

It is also a rule in our household that this chart is not the be-all, end-all list of household responsibilities. These are the basics of each day, and there will be other things the kids might be asked to do on any given day. Sometimes I add a row onto my chore charts just for positive attitudes so that when the kids do participate in the family with positive attitudes that can be recorded for each day. This is one of those components that really makes these chore chart more like behaviors charts.

Should I Pay for Chore Chart Results?

Even though chore charts is the common name used for these behavior charts, in our home we usually refer to them as “family responsibility charts” because that is what they really are. The word chore just seems to imply something tedious, and what I hope to be reiterating to my children is that the tasks on these charts are not ominous, but they are how we each participate and work together as a family.

For this reason (among others), we do not give allowances based on the completeness of the charts. Instead we just make it clear from the beginning that the tasks on the charts are necessary for the family to function well. I don’t get paid for doing laundry and my husband doesn’t get paid for snow-blowing. These are things that need to happen in order for our lives to work well. The reward for the kids is self-confidence they get from achieving their goals and participating in the family.

One of the other drawbacks of paying allowance for chores is that eventually as kids get older and more self-sufficient they will have other opportunities to earn money through baby-sitting, odd jobs, or even part-time jobs at the mall. If their motivation thus far has been to earn money, their need for your money from chart completions might not be a motivating factor anymore when money can be earned elsewhere.

If you feel you want to add an extra reward to the chart system consider things like family outings, family game nights, or a special purchase at the end of the month for the family. The stress should be on the reward for the family, as the household responsibilities should be done to better the entire family.

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Give Young Kids Chores and Increase their Successes in Life

Give your son the vacuum cleaner, and give him the world! Can household chores really do all of that? You might have heard about the research that shows that chores are good for children. It teaches them things like responsibility, practical living skills, and how to participate within a family. But have you heard or seen the research that shows that the earlier we begin having our children participate with family chores, the better off they will be, well into adulthood?

It turns out that those times you might struggle with getting the kids to help wash dishes or just put their toys away can mean the difference between adult children who have self-confidence and those who are struggling with self-image. Not only is it essential to give children chores and responsibilities, but the younger we start, the better off their futures can be.

Marty Rossmann, an associate professor of family education, has explored the numerous ways that children are impacted by having responsibilities around the home, and has specifically studied how the ages at which chores are given changes the future dynamics. During a detailed study, Rossmann conducted formal explorations of 84 children from ages 3 – adulthood, following the same group as they aged, in relation to the household and family chores they were given at various ages. At three separate times in their lives Rossmann studied several influencing factors:

  • Parents’ styles of interacting with the children in the study
  • Genders of children and participating parents
  • Types of chores and responsibilities given
  • Time required of and/or spent on chores
  • Attitudes about and motivations for chore completions
  • Participation in families of each subject by doing chores at three specified times in their lives:
  1. Ages 3-4
  2. Ages 9-10
  3. Ages 15-16
  • Follow-up research with each adult child when they were in their 20s

All of these factors were analyzed and compared to other research data in the field. The results were clear – the best predictor for success as an adult in mid-twenties when it comes to household responsibilities among other things was the participation in household chores when that person was just 3 or 4 years old. The results also showed that when children were not given responsibilities until their teenage years that they were less likely to be successful in their twenties. The definition of success in this research included the completion of educational goals, their IQs, beginnings of careers, positive relationships with family and friends, and the non-use of drugs.

How do I Give My Young Child Chores?

Chores and responsibilities included things like putting toys away, helping with dishes, laundry, taking out the trash, and other routine household necessities. As with so many things with parenting it is imperitive that the responsibility is age and ability appropriate. Just don’t let yourself make excuses for why your child can’t do a particular chore. Give gentle directions and guidance, but don’t do it for them (even if it isn’t done just the way you would do it yourself). The only way your kids will learn how to do these chores and do them well is to try for themselves. Just the other day my 8 year-old son volunteered to sweep and mop the floors. While his muscles are barely strong enough to compress the mop, he worked like a trooper and did the floors. He was so proud of himself and I really did appreciate the help.

  • Give them clear instructions for the tasks, including which tools they might need to help.
  • Avoid tasks that are large in time commitment or scope – “Clean your room” might be too overwhelming in task, but “Put your games on the shelf and your toys in your toy box” helps to clarify expectations.
  • Don’t worry about how you would have done it – appreciate their small steps as they learn how to do it for themselves.
  • Make sure the tasks are age and ability appropriate. Younger children need to be monitored with cleaning supplies, but a 3 year old can do a great job lint rolling the sofa.
  • Tap into their learning and activity styles. Kids who need to move but aren’t the most grateful might be better off vacuuming or carrying stacks of laundry than dusting the small knick-knacks.

Rossmann and other researchers agree that when young children are given responsibilities early in life that they are more likely to have senses of responsibility, be competent, self-reliant, and have higher levels of self-worth later in life. Author of Indulge Them Less, Enjoy Them More: Finding a Balance Between Giving More and Saying No to Your Children, Jean Illsely Clarke, agrees with Rossmann and says that when parents overindulge their children by not giving them chores, they do a disservice that often results in a lack of skills and low self-esteem for adult children.

When our kids are younger they are more likely to try to tackle household chores with their unique and untainted vision of the world – everything is an adventure for younger children. Take advantage of that spirit and energy and give them the opportunities to help around the house. When we start young with small chores and responsibilities we can build upon those and give them strong foundations for their futures. Who knew a mop and broom could do so much?

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7 Lessons Our Kids Teach Us

7 Lessons Our Kids Teach Us

Parenting isn’t about knowing everything and instilling overflowing amounts of wisdom upon our children, no matter how much we wish that to be the case. As prepared as we hope to be when we bring our little bundles of joy home, there is nothing that can prepare us for the lessons we will be taught about life through the eyes, lips, and actions of our kids.

  1. If we yell, they will learn to yell. We can’t really believe that we get to go around the house hollering and not expect them to do the same. Even when we are frustrated, or perhaps especially when we are frustrated, our yelling does not teach them how to understand the frustration we might be feeling with them. It only teaches them how to use their voice to try to gain control over a situation. If you’ve ever heard your child yell at a sibling or friend, can you hear your own voice inflection behind their own?
  2. We can’t gossip. Even when we think they aren’t listening, they are. If we sit in the living room and gossip with our partners about our co-workers or talk on the phone obsessing with a friend about not believing she wore that to the dinner party, we teach our children that gossip is OK. Sometimes the hardest way to learn that lesson is to hear your child repeat your gossip among others and hear the cruelty it brings from their lips. For adults gossiping seems to be the new version of bullying, because we push people’s feelings around with words.
  3. We have to follow through with commitments. If I tell my kids that I will attend their play, watch them in a curling bon spiel (hey – we live in the great north), or help them with homework, we have to do those things. If we don’t, we have little right to expect them to follow through on their commitments.
  4. We need to put family first. It starts with our children and making them priorities, but it also includes supporting extended family as well. These are the people we will have to lean upon during our lives, and who will in turn support our children. If we think our kids aren’t remembering to value family members, we need to think about how we are showing value ourselves.
  5. We have to take care of ourselves. It can be a really challenging thing for parents, I think in particular moms, to do. Placing importance on our own needs doesn’t mean we can’t put our kids and our partner as priorities. It just means that we love them enough to want to give them the best parent possible, and we can’t do that if we ignore our health check-ups, give up on personal hobbies, and forget how to reach for our own goals. Taking care of ourselves teaches our children how to be healthy people by eating well, exercising, and being emotionally healthy.
  6. We need to nurture our intimate relationships. This might sound like a strange thing to have on this list, but think about the last time your child saw you getting along really well with your partner. It probably made them smile to see you teasing each other, or they felt secure knowing that you were a team and working together. Providing this solid foundation not only helps your kids feel great during childhood, but it teaches them how to have respectful and nurturing relationships in the future.
  7. We need to accept defeat. This can be one of the toughest lessons our children can teach us. We want to be the strong, capable parents that they want us to be, but the truth is that we are all humans and we all make mistakes and experience failures. If we aren’t honest about these downfalls, we risk raising children who think they have to be perfect because their parents are (or seem to be). Letting our children see us as human and struggling teaches them how to acknowledge their own shortcomings and learn how to move on from there.

Our kids are the reasons why we strive to be better people. When we see something negative in our children, the first place we need to look is in the mirror. While we can’t blame every inappropriate behavior or negative action of our child on ourselves, we can take to hear the lessons our kids teach us about leading better lives. I for one am so glad I have my kids here around me to keep me in line!

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Keep Your Kids Physically Active

If you’re a parent, chances are you have seen your children move from calm, loving creatures to unrecognizable terrors of energy that burst forth like the spaghetti they used to throw as a baby from the highchair. OK – maybe not quite – but like the spaghetti and my food throwing babes – I sometimes find myself in the line of too-much-pent-up-energy fire.

Behavior Management and Physical Activity

There is one form of behavior management and behavior modification that I find myself consistently reaching for as I parent my four children – physical activity. Behavior management when it comes to parenting basically involves creating opportunities and activities available for our children so that they have the best possible desired behavioral outcomes. This might mean that you limit video game time because it is too distracting for homework, or you sign your son up for sport teams because he seems to need that extra activity. Behavior modification is the way we try to instill good, or remove and replace bad behaviors with more acceptable ones. For me physical activity is one of the best combinations of these two approaches.

I don’t know if it is because there are so many boys in my house that the testosterone can suddenly overwhelm innocent bystanders, but I do know that if I don’t provide my kids with enough physical activity they are liable to explode and take me with them. I have learned over the years that providing them with opportunities to run, jump, leap, and crawl is essential to their healthy development, and this is one of the forms of behavior management I use as a parent. I also think it is why teachers sometimes struggle so much in the classroom – there are too many expectations for stillness among bodies that were meant to be moving. When we as parents are mindful of the cues our children send us about their physical needs, we can make sure we give them activities that will help meet those needs.

Behavior Modification and Physical Activity

In our family I have also discovered how I can utilize physical activity as a form of behavior modification as well. Researchers and therapists have also been finding that physical activity is a great way to implement behavior modification plans. Doctors even give patients prescriptions for gyms, physical programs, and instructions on replacing old, poorer habits with healthier ones. This isn’t just limited to things like weight control and cardiovascular health. People, including children, suffering from anxiety issues can really be helped by this method of modifying behaviors.

When it comes to parenting and behavior modification through physical activity, I use several approaches depending upon the situation. Here are some of the examples for how it works in our home with our kids who range in age from 8 – 15.

If my child is getting visibly frustrated over a school assignment, I have him break from his task and do 5 minutes of physical activity. Jumping jacks, shooting hoops, or even yoga can help relieve stress and get oxygen flowing again. As a result of this habit I have seen my kids now on their own get up and move from their difficult assignments to take a positive break.

If one of my kids is finding just the right way to bother a sibling by making every incessant annoying noise possible, it is time to do a physical and maybe verbal activity. This might be playing a game of 500 outside so the mouth and the legs can run, traditional childhood games like What Time is it Mr. Fox?, or even by walking to the neighbors and visiting. Getting kids to learn to take their negative energies and turn them into positives benefits everyone in the family.

If one of my kids is, for lack of a better description, being rather lazy or unproductive, it is time to move. This might mean asking for help taking out the garbage or carrying laundry upstairs, or it could be taking everyone for a hike outside. Shifting focus from the glazed over look teenagers sometimes get when texting too much or being confined inside too much is really important, and physical activity is one of the best ways to change that focus. Even with their potential eye-rolling.

There are other ways to use physical activity in behavior management and modification:

  • Make sure your child has time every day for physical activity
  • Keep things like juggling balls, jump ropes, hacky sacks, and these great conversation balls on hand for positive uses of energy
  • Turn on the music and dance with your kids if you see them on the verge of a bad behavior – you both might look silly but you just changed their course of behavior for the better
  • Watch for the signs that your child might benefit from more physical activity – agitation, anxiety, boredom, listlessness, and crabbiness

Don’t underestimate the power of physical activity on the behaviors your child shows. And don’t be afraid to use these practices yourself. Nothing clears my head from the chaos of raising children like a 5 minute session pulling weeds or a brisk walk outside. Then it is back to the testosterone overload!


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The Language of Boys – Humor

The Language of Boys – Humor

How Bad Jokes and Silly Stories are the Foundation of Communication 

Boys – those mystical creatures who fill our homes with mayhem and moments to treasure. Raising boys is sometimes like navigating a mine field of bottled energy, strings of confusing and humorous conversations, and armpit farts. As the mother of three sons, I’ve seen how boys bring a special kind of life into our home. I’ve also seen how I need to adjust my parenting as they grow and mature so that we can keep that bottled energy from exploding in our faces and keep the conversations flowing. Raising caring, compassionate boys is more than about teaching manners and laying down rules for behaviors. It is about allowing them to be boys and understanding how humor influences their communication styles and approaches (even those armpit farts).

Not a day goes by without a giggle fest in our home over bodily functions or sounds, tricks played on siblings, or repeated jokes. An interesting study done by Alexander Kozinstev, an anthropology professor, looked at how humor affects the communication skills of boys ages 9 through 18. In his findings, Kozinstev reports that, “From trying to deliver the funniest joke, to making the funniest bodily noises, boys used humor when communicating with peers 68 percent more than girls in similar social situations.” It appears that this sometimes raw humor is a boy’s way of navigating through social situations. When they are insecure humor is the tool with which they use to test the waters.

When boys make someone laugh, even laugh at them, it can feel like an acceptance and a reward. Silly things like putting a bug on their own nose and crossing their eyes or the ever popular belching duals are worn like a badge of honor on the sleeves of boys who can garnish the most laughter. Boys might try to deflect more serious conversations through humor, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t understand the gravity of emotional issues – they just deal with them outwardly differently.

Other researchers agree with Kozinstev’s assessments, including the author of the Knowledge Essential Series Amy James. She claims that gender does influence the ways in which children communicate, especially when it comes to humor. This is absolutely true on our home, where my daughter and I have had many conversations about how you will never catch her and her female friends sitting around the living room having belching contests or being proud of bodily noises. The girls still giggle, but their reasons for laughter come from completely different sources of humor. They are also less inclined to joke easily with new acquaintances – they look more for emotional connections.

Humor and Communication

Our boys seem naturally drawn to use humor to communicate, and while it sometimes seems like they don’t take things seriously enough, there are ways to teach boys to use humor and still be respectful.

  • Make sure your son understands the differences between teasing that hurts and truly good natured ribbing.
  • Talk with your son about boundaries for boy humor – dinner table manners, socially acceptable behaviors, and so forth.
  • Talk about empathy and how they can watch the body language of others to make sure their humor isn’t over the line.
  • Establish rules for school. Remind them that answering a serious question from the teacher with a flippant remark is not only disrespectful, but it can have other negative consequences such as detention.
  • Keep using your own verbal communication skills to talk about things with them. It is important that they learn that humor can’t always make the intended impact.
  • Have fun with them – even if humor is your typical way to approach situations. They will sometimes respond so much better when we let ourselves remember what it is like to be kids.

Boys have their own special languages they use for communication – humor. It might sometimes scrape our nerves as nails scrape a chalkboard, but in reality it can be a very effective way to interact with others. As a child I remember not understanding how my own mother could have earned an actual Ph.D. in Rhetorical Theory and write a paper on Rhetorical Theory and Humor. Now I get it – she was probably just learning how to communicate with her own kids.

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Child Indoctrination: The Goal Of Your Child’s School?

Child Indoctrination: The Goal Of Your Child’s School?

Did you ever wonder as a child how silly it was that all the grownups spent a lot of time talking about money, yet you never talked about how to manage it in school?

Did you ever find it odd in college that the professor who taught business had never actually ran one?

Ever wonder why so few adults actually go into a field that even relates to their degree?

These are just a few of the questions this video answers:

Truly spooky stuff huh?

It makes you realize just how much wool has been pulled over your eyes, and how they’ve tricked you into willing pulling the wool over your childrens eyes too.  Hell, they even get you to pay for your child’s indoctrination with your own damn tax dollars.  Brilliant.  Evil, but brilliant.

To see if your child’s school is indoctrinating your son or daughter I would highly encourage you to listen to this interview that I did with John Taylor Gatto, who is one of the men working to more fully expose the evil roots of our school systems.  And don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’ve enrolled your child in private school that you’re off the hook.

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Parents Happy to Host Pox Parties and Serve Pox Pops

It is enough to make the skin crawl (maybe with chicken pox) – the thought that irresponsible parenting will put other people’s children and loved ones, including my own, at severe risks. I’m talking about the latest fad of pox parties and pox pops – where parents who are concerned about the safety or effectiveness of vaccines purposefully gather their children together and have them share snacks, orange juice, and spit, in the hopes that they will contract the virus naturally. The following is not a debate about the benefits and/or side effects of immunizations for our kids. This is a reality check for parents who willingly put the health of those in their communities at risk by irresponsible choices.

The chicken pox, or varicella, has been around for most of us as an annoying illness we suffered through as children. As yet another vaccine rolled out the doors for our children, so did an increasing attitude from some parents that enough is enough. Some parents feel that natural exposure to viruses is a healthier way for their children’s bodies to react and adjust to these diseases.

I admit that when the chicken pox vaccine first came out I did not rush my daughter to the front of the line. After all, I had chicken pox as a child and everything was just fine. However, when my third child was born it was clear that his asthmatic tendencies warranted a new conversation about vaccines in our family. He suffered most often from viral induced asthma attacks – a minor sniffle for any other child for him meant pneumonia and perhaps a visit to the ER. For our children chicken pox exposure was not worth the risk and all of our children received the immunization.

For those who can’t receive the chicken pox vaccine for health reasons, exposure to chicken pox can prove painful, dangerous, and even deadly. When these people come into contact with children who were intentionally exposed and then not quarantined, it is an irresponsible way to parent and live in a community. Obviously those children who are unknowingly exposed might have the same interactions and unfortunately cause the same repercussions. However, as parents of our children we still owe it to the families of others to be diligent and responsible about community health issues.

This new trend for pox parties is disturbing on two levels:

1. Parents are actually ordering lollipops supposedly licked by infected people with which to feed their children. Not only is it illegal to send viruses through the mail, it is more likely that a child would contract another disease, such as hepatitis or a staph infection, than the chicken pox vaccine. These resilient diseases would cause far greater havoc on the body of a child than chicken pox or the chicken pox vaccine. How can parents cringe at the thought of a child licking a shopping cart, yet pay money for a used lollipop and feed it to their kids as a snack? 

2. Parents who attend pox parties with their children where they visit neighbors or friends who are ill in the hopes of spreading it are often missing another important factor. After exposure to the virus their children can spread it to other people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women (which can prove fatal for infants), newborns, and the elderly.

Since parents have no way of knowing if their child is carrying the virus until the telltale signs appear, and they remain contagious until all of the spots have crusted over, they are placing risks on those around them. Parents who choose to purposefully expose their children to the virus must keep their children isolated (yes – quarantined in the home veg’ing out with movies and toys) until they know the results. We tell people all of the time who have the flu or have been exposed to the flu to stay home from work and kids are sent home from school in part in order to keep others safe.

Again, this isn’t intended as a debate over whether parents should vaccinate their children. This is a dialogue about the definition of responsible parenting that extends to the families of those around you. One mother who intentionally exposed her children to the virus at pox party admits she doesn’t recall quarantining her children afterwards. This is reckless and, well, not very neighborly. I’m all for neighbors getting to do what they want, parents making decisions for their own kids, but it is scary when they do it at the expense to those around them.

We teach our children not to drink and drive, not to beat up kids on the playground, and not to willingly inflict harm on those around them. Attending a pox party or serving a pox pop and then sending your child out to play among kids with possibly compromised immune systems or the pregnant woman who teaches art classes for kids is irresponsible and selfish. Let’s step it up as parents and truly be the examples of teaching our children how to treat others as we want to be treated, as well as the importance of raising healthy kids. Have your pox parties, but make it a week’s vacation to be on the safe side for all of us.

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